The Twitch meta is constantly evolving as new trends rise in popularity on the platform. A recent meta that’s become extremely popular on the platform, known as hot tub streams, has been the source of a great deal on controversy for the site. Though the meta has been around for a few months now and has lost some of its novelty during its peak, it’s still popular today.

Let’s examine how hot tub streams, for a time, became the biggest topic on Twitch, how it affected the platform’s creators and how it managed to secure a permanent space on Twitch.

What is the hot tub meta?

Hot tub streams have been a thing on Twitch for some time now, dating back to 2020. However, over the course of just a year, hot tub streams have considerably risen in popularity.

The standard hot tub stream, usually (but not always) hosted by women, typically involves a bikini-wearing streamer sitting in an inflatable pool and talking to chat for hours at a time. The individuals who hosted hot tub streams tended to receive a high number of views and donations — so much so, in fact, that more streamers started to do it so they could reap the benefits of those kinds of streams.

It eventually was referred to as the hot tub meta by the Twitch community. Thanks in part to this new meta, streamers such as Amouranth, Indiefoxx and Faith have experienced substantial growth in their communities in a short timeframe. For instance, Amouranth gained half a million followers on Twitch in just 30 days during the height of the hot tub craze.

Image courtesy: Amouranth

Stirring up controversy

As the hot tub meta blew up on Twitch in the early months of 2021, it became a highly controversial topic. Since many of the hot tub streams were popular, they’d appear on the home page of Twitch next to other female streamers who were vocal about their desire to not be associated with those kinds of streams. Also, many of the streams were categorized as “Just Chatting” streams, which encompass a wide variety of content.

Numerous women streamers experienced harassment by hot tub viewers and were continuously asked to do their own hot tub stream. QTCinderalla, a popular variety Twitch streamer, was one of the prominent voices that spoke out early on against the harassment that seemed to stem from the presence of hot tub streams.

She and many other female streamers advocated for Twitch to have a separate place for hot tub streams so that not-hot tub streamers would be less likely to be subjected to harassment. While some wanted to remove hot tub streams from Twitch altogether, many in the community didn’t want to silence these hot tub creators. Instead, they wanted Twitch to update their categories to include a section for hot tubs.

Another part of the Twitch community argued the content was inappropriate for Twitch and violated policy. Twitch does have policies regarding Nudity & Attire and Sexually Suggestive Content, although it does allow for streamers to “appear in swimwear in contextually appropriate situations.” In a blog post addressing hot tub streams, Twitch made it clear that its policies are meant to draw a line and ban content that is overtly or explicitly sexually suggestive. However, it’s not against the platform’s rules, as Twitch put it to be “found to be sexy by others,” with the site adding that it will not take enforcement action against anyone for their perceived attractiveness.

At the same time, Twitch did acknowledge that its rules weren’t as clear as they could be, and that determining where to draw the line when it comes to potentially sexually suggestive content was a complex matter. Amidst claims that some streamers were advertising OnlyFans accounts on their channels, Twitch pledged to update its policies on sexually suggestive content “in the coming months.”

How did Twitch respond to the controversy?

With the controversy heating up on the platform, Twitch had to respond quickly. With many female streamers experiencing harassment and a growing worry that advertisers would pull their investments in ads, Twitch decided to carve out a unique category for the genre. Naming the new category “Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches” would remove the hot tub streams from the Just Chatting category, hopefully reducing the amount of harassment women streamers would receive.

What happened to the hot tub meta after the category?

Since creating the category for hot tub streams, the meta’s popularity has fallen. While the streams are still popular, they had much more success in the Just Chatting category since, in general, more people watch the Just Chatting category than the Pools, Hot Tubs, and Beaches category.

Regardless, the hot tub meta has had a lasting impact on the Twitch community. Some argue that Twitch’s decision will open an avenue for sexualized content to find its way onto the platform in the near future. The platform did admit that it has a lot of work to do, and cautioned that it will take time to “implement all the changes we’ve outlined.” Until then, it’s hard to deny that there’s a gray area between what Twitch deems to be ban-able content and what’s allowed to remain on the platform.